Tag Archives: painting

Use Your Words, Diane…

I have a dysfunctional relationship with words.  I’m infatuated… or maybe even obsessed.  I love words without reason or reservation.  I’m delighted to spend all day with them:  hour after hour of reading or writing; placing and replacing and tweaking them until they’re arranged in a way that delights my soul.

And in return, they fail me.  Over and over.

The little bastards got me again this week.  I’ve joined an art group to force myself to make time for activities other than reading or writing; so every Friday afternoon I take my watercolour paints down to the group studio for yet another three hours of humiliation.

I don’t know why I’m so determined to paint in watercolour.  I suck at it.  In oils and acrylics I’m actually capable of producing something that resembles art, but my watercolours always resemble shit.  Maybe I just have psychological issues that impel me to seek out destructive relationships.

Fortunately, I paint with a wonderful group.  Everyone is supportive, tactful, and happy to help a poor beginner any way they can; lending materials and advice and encouragement in equal measure.  And they all have a great sense of humour.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with frisket – a substance that goes onto the paper as a liquid but dries to a rubbery waterproof coating.  It’s used to mask out sections of a painting before applying colour, so that when it’s removed the background colour is revealed.  But it turns my brush into a rubbery pellet no matter how assiduously I rinse, so Hubby bought me a set of silicone brush-like tools instead.

The new tools work wonderfully.  So, pleased to be able to offer something to the rest of the group instead of always being on the receiving end of their generosity, I showed off my new acquisitions last Friday.

We were standing around talking about the tools, and I explained that I’d been looking for a way to mask fine lines.  But when I turned back to demonstrate, the fine-line tool wasn’t on my table.  I glanced around the group of women chatting beside me and spotted one of them holding the tool I had in mind.

I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation, so I held out my hand.

She didn’t seem to get my meaning, so I wiggled my fingers.  A faint wrinkle appeared between her brows.  I wiggled my fingers some more, miming holding a brush between them.

She drew back a step, beginning to look concerned.

At that point all conversations ceased while everybody took in the sight of me apparently making pinching motions in the general direction of another woman’s boob.

When I finally managed to sputter, “My brush…” and point at her hand, a roar of laughter nearly raised the roof.

“Use your words, Diane,” another woman prompted, still giggling.  “You’re a writer.  You can do this.  Use your words.”

Well, I would have… but as usual, the little buggers skipped out on me when I needed them the most.

I wonder if there’s such a thing as lexical relationship counselling…?

22 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Paint, Lies, and False Optimism

We’re close.  We’re sooooo close…

You may think that first sentence should end with “…to insanity” but in truth, our sanity fled a long time ago.

No; we’re close to finally finishing our second floor renovation… if by ‘close’ you read “we only have to paint three walls and half the floor, install the shower doors, buy four sets of bifold doors and install them, hang a bathroom door, build storage shelves and a twenty-four-foot bookcase, and trim out six doors, four windows, and two skylights”.

Honestly, we’re almost done!  …Or we’re delusional.  It’s one of those D-words; but ‘delusional’ is so harsh.  I prefer ‘optimistic’.

You may recall that I confessed my antipathy to painting back in May when I ended up painting our exterior trim.  Shortly thereafter, we tried to hire a painter to do our interior work.

The original painter who did our addition was the messiest painter I’ve ever seen.  By the time he was finished there was paint everywhere, all over our new flooring and even on the door handles; and he seemed to think that was perfectly okay.  We didn’t call him back.

After a lengthy search we found a second painter who thought he could fit us in.  He showed up, gave us an astronomical quote, and then vanished after we asked when he could start.

So we found a third.  He showed up, gave us a reasonable quote, and said he could start the following week… and then vanished.  (I heard a rumour that he was fleeing three ex-wives and a soon-to-be-ex fourth.)

So we tracked down the second painter again.  We waited a month until he finally showed up and started painting… and then he had a tantrum and walked off the job after doing only two rooms (badly).

By then I was out of time and patience, so I did it myself (despite the fact that I REALLY HATE PAINTING).  It was a slow process, but it looked surprisingly good when I was finished.

So for the second floor, we didn’t even bother trying to hire somebody.  “I’ll do it,” I said to Hubby.  “Even though I REALLY HATE PAINTING.”

“Should we do the floor last?” he asked.  “Just in case you drip?”

“I never drip,” I said proudly.  “I’m a very tidy painter.”

Well.

I guess I can’t blame our ex-painters for being flaky, because apparently there’s something in latex paint that turns people into liars and/or nutjobs and/or destroys their hand-eye coordination.

Last summer I painted without a dropcloth and never had a problem; but now?  Good Lord.  I have paint on the floor, the ladders, my clothes, and every part of my body that isn’t covered by clothes, including my hair.  When I’m finally finished upstairs, I’m going to frame my jeans and market them as a modern art piece.  (On the upside, the walls and ceiling are pristine; and thanks to Hubby’s foresight we’re painting the floor last.)

But slow?  I’m positively glacial.  With emphasis on ‘positively’; as in ‘falsely optimistic’.  Before I started, I thought, “Ah, I’ll be done in a few days.”  I’ve been painting six hours a day for two weeks and I’m still not done.

But I’m close.

I’m sooooo close…

*cuddles into straitjacket and rocks back and forth, humming*

Did I mention I REALLY HATE PAINTING?

To be fair, that mess isn’t all from mistakes – I also clean the end of my small roller on my pants because it’s easier than finding a rag. But still…

30 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Polyester Flop-Sweat

Pundits say you should do one thing every day that scares you, to prevent yourself from stagnating.

Fasten your seatbelt, ’cause I’m digressing already:

I have issues with the word ‘pundit’ – my brain concatenates ‘pun’ with ‘bandit’, and I get a mental image of a chortling masked villain who barges into conversations to drop a vile pun and then flee, leaving behind shock, awe, and a punny stench.

Anyway, back to ‘doing the thing that scares you’:

I’m not up for a scare du jour, but I do think it’s good to step outside my comfort zone every now and then. So last week I started a 6-week watercolour class.

You may recall a post where I mentioned I’ve dabbled in oil painting; but I’ve never posted anything about watercolour. That’s not because I haven’t tried it. I’ve been trying it since the early ’80s. I haven’t mentioned it before because I completely suck at it.

But I’ve kept all my watercolour paints and brushes, and every decade or so, I think, “Jeez, how bad could I actually be? I should give it another try. Surely I don’t suck as badly as I remember.”

Then I try it again, and yes; yes, I do suck that badly.

So I’m doing what scares me and seizing watercolour by the brushes. With the help of the supremely talented Peggy Burkosky, I will figure it out. I hope.

Maybe.

But even if I don’t, I’m still getting a private giggle… because the classroom has black plastic chairs, and therein lies a story.

Back in the dark days when I had to dress up and attend excruciating business networking events, polyester pants were in style. If you’ve never worn old-school polyester pants, think ‘pant-shaped plastic bag’. Now add ‘hot summer day’. Plus ‘black plastic chairs’:

After sweating through a lengthy business presentation, I rose with relief… which was short-lived when I turned to pick up my briefcase and discovered that I’d left a butt-print clearly outlined in condensation on the black plastic seat of the chair.

I froze.

Should I just walk away, hoping the evidence would evaporate before anyone else noticed?

Or should I wipe off the chair?

But if I got caught in the act, what would I say? “Oh, ’scuse me while I clean up my sweaty butt-print. Hey, would you like one of my business cards? I’ve got them right here in my back pocket…”

Fast-forward to my first watercolour class last week. Blissfully unaware, I wore yoga pants made from spandex, which is basically a stretchy form of polyester. Fortunately the weather is cool now; but you can bet I did a quick little shimmy in my chair before standing up at the end of the class… just in case.

I won’t reveal my watercolour attempts yet; mainly because even after six hours of instruction, I still haven’t completed a painting. (And I might not ever admit that I’ve completed a painting. My crimes against art might go straight from the easel to the campfire.)

But hey, at least I’m not stagnating… unless you count the puddle of flop-sweat in my black plastic chair.

P.S. Remember those awful old polyester pants? What were we thinking?!?

32 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Jusht An Ash Hole

I was on the phone with my step-mom the other day when the conversation turned to my messy painting habits, and I confessed that by now I have paint on my jacket, shoes, jeans, and even my socks.

My step-mom expressed concern about my jacket, but I assured her, “Oh, no, it’s only my old camping jacket.  It’s ancient and full of ash holes from sitting around the campfire.”

I should have known she wouldn’t let me get away with that.  She hesitated, then let me have it:  “Are you saying there’s an ash hole in your jacket?  So who’s the ash hole?”

Needless to say, I laughed my ash off.

And I was ready for a good laugh, because my patience with the construction process is wearing thin.

But… *drumroll please* …we might get the all-important Occupancy Permit in a few days!

These days Hubby and I utter the words “Occupancy Permit” in the same way one might say “Holy Grail”: with capital letters and in a hushed tone of awe.  The other day our neighbour’s truck went by towing a flatbed trailer with an oak dining room suite on it, and Hubby said, “Mike got his Occupancy Permit last week.”

I sighed with the same hopeless desire as if I’d just found out Mike had won $50 million in the lottery.

Wait, no.  If he’d won $50 million I’d be pleased as punch for him.  But an Occupancy Permit?  I admit it:  I’m rabidly envious.  Imagine, an actual dining table and chairs.  And a kitchen to cook real food instead of microwaving plastic prepared stuff.

And maybe… dare I even think it?  *whispers* A dresser and a closet.  We’ve been living out of suitcases for so long I can’t even remember if I have other clothes besides the same fourteen T-shirts I’ve been wearing over and over for the past five months.

But despite my limited sartorial options, I’ve discovered that no matter how few clothes you have in your suitcase, the item you want will always be at the bottom.  And when you have multiple T-shirts of approximately the same colour, you will have to unfold each and every one of them before you finally find the one you want.

And socks?  I’ve previously speculated that socks are the work of evil; and their behaviour in my suitcase confirms it.  No matter how carefully I pair and arrange them so the best ones are on top, the sock imps rampage through my suitcase at night, pulling pairs apart and hiding the best socks in odd corners while moving the second-string ones to the top.

Here’s proof:  My painting shoes have holes in them.  Ergo, I have a pair of socks with blue paint on the toes.  How many times do you think I’ve pulled that pair out of my suitcase thinking they were good socks?

Yep, you guessed it.  Every… single… time!  This despite the fact that each time I find them, I push them back to the bottom of the suitcase.

So, between the malevolent sock imps and the irritation of STILL not having a finished house, I’m a woman on the edge.  If we don’t get our Occupancy Permit by next week, I’m gonna put on my ash hole jacket and start kickin’ ash!

Am I the only one with sock imps in my suitcase?

36 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

It’s Just ‘Pain’ With A ‘T’

I’ve been doing quite a bit of painting on our new house, and I’m here to tell you that the root word of ‘paint’ is ‘pain’.

But I’m practically a painting guru now, so as a public service I’m sharing my very best answers to common DIY painting questions:

*

Q:  When using a roller, how much paint should I put in my tray?

A:  How much do you want to mop up?

*

Q:  What is ‘cutting in’?

A:  ‘Cutting in’ means using a paintbrush to create a sharp accurate edge, which you can then completely wreck with the paint roller.

*

Q:  What is the best technique for cutting in?

A:  Inhale, then touch down the brush and slowly exhale while you stroke smoothly down the edge. This steadies your hand, and conveniently conserves your breath for swearing after you get paint all over everything.

*

Q:  Should I apply masking tape before cutting in to keep my edges sharp and clean?

A:  Absolutely!  There’s nothing more fulfilling than spending hours painstakingly applying masking tape, only to remove it and discover that the paint has seeped under it and dried, and/or the tape has peeled the original paint off the wall.

*

Q:  What is the best way to clean up a small paint spill?

A:  There are no small paint spills.  Even though it takes a gallon of paint to do a tiny room, a single drop of spilled paint is capable of spreading over a thousand square feet.

*

Q:  So many types of paint!  What kind should I buy?

A:  Just pick one at random.  Whichever you choose, it’s guaranteed to be the wrong type for your project; even if you’ve described your project in detail to a professional paint seller and bought exactly what they recommended.

*

Q:  What is the best cloth for wiping up drips?

A:  Whatever you’re wearing at the time.  You can try a special clean-up cloth if you want, but your clothes are still going to look like paint rags by the time you’re done.

*

Q:  How can I choose a colour I’ll like from those little paint chips?

A:  You can’t.  You need to paint three-foot swatches of the colours you’re considering.  Then, after agonizing for days over the subtle differences between ten shades of the same colour, you’ll feel confident when you finally choose the perfect one… which will last until you paint the room and discover that it looks entirely different than the chip or the swatch.

*

Q:  How much paint do I need?

A:  Half a cup more than you bought.

*

Q:  Design magazines recommend choosing colours from a colour group so they’ll look nice together.  What are the colour groups?

A:  There are two basic colour groups:  “Muted” and “Clear”.  Muted colours fade into dismal anonymity and look as though they’ve all been mixed with mud; and clear colours leap off the wall with super-saturated brilliance that hurts your eyes and causes psychotic episodes if you stay in the room too long.  All paint colours belong to one group or the other; and you won’t know which you’ve got until it’s too late.

*

Q:  What’s the best way to use a dropcloth?

A:  Spread it out in a nice grassy area and anchor it with a cooler full of alcoholic beverages.  Recline and enjoy a cold one… or several.  Trust me, it’s far better than trying to use the dropcloth to keep paint off your floors and furniture.

*

What are your best painting tips?

61 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

What’s That Rusty Colour?

A few years ago I confessed my lack of regard for fine distinctions in paint colour, and I should have known it would come back to bite me in the ass.

This week I’ve been doing some touchups around the house.  Nothing big – a couple of swipes of drywall compound, light sanding, and a feathering of paint to blend in the patch.

I’ve done it dozens of times over the years and usually it’s easy.  But sometimes the stars and planets misalign and the patron saint of painting goes on a bender and can’t be roused from the hangover.  Then everything that can go wrong, does; and several things that couldn’t possibly go wrong, do anyway.

The drywall repairs went smoothly (pun intended).  Then I trotted out to the garage to find the leftover house paints, which were all labelled, colour-matched, and ready to go (I thought).

I decided to start with the small patch on the bathroom ceiling.  There were two paint cans, both labelled ‘flat white ceiling paint’.  Fine.  I optimistically pried the lid off one, mixed it, and applied a test swatch.

It wasn’t white.  Nowhere near.  Nope, it was an odd rusty colour.

I repeated the process with the second can.

Same weird colour.

I was beginning to question my own sanity when I realized the rusty colour was spreading like some vile algae on the test swatch.

Yep, there were rust flakes in the paint.  I’d like to say ‘I’ll never understand why paint comes in cans that rust and wreck the paint ten seconds after you open them’, but the truth is I do understand.  It’s a diabolical scheme to force us to go out and buy a whole new batch of paint for every single project, no matter how minor.

So I succumbed to the inevitable and headed for the paint store.  Little did I know that my karmic debt was about to be called in, with interest and penalties:

  • I was in a hurry (first mistake) so I asked the paint person for a quart of flat white ceiling paint, took the can she handed me, paid, and left.
  • She screwed up. It was untinted neutral base, which is translucent.  Back to the store, stand in the returns lineup, then go back to the paint department.
  • Decide to get drywall primer instead, thinking that’s what I had used as a finish coat last time anyway. (Second mistake:  relying on my shitty memory.)
  • Discover the drywall primer is also translucent. Back to the paint store.
  • Find FLAT WHITE CEILING PAINT. They don’t have any quarts; only gallons.
  • Buy a gallon of paint (approximately 20 times what I need for my small patch) because it’s only $7 more than a quart, and I’d spend more than that in gas, time, and annoyance going somewhere else.
  • Take the paint home, open it, ascertain that it is in fact the right paint and the right colour.
  • Paint over my patch and feather the edges onto the existing painted ceiling, finally accomplishing the ten minutes of work that I set out to do about eight hours ago.
  • Go to bed, not exactly happy but at least relieved.
  • Wake up the next morning to discover the new paint has dried to a different shade of white than the original, so now I have to repaint the entire ceiling.
  • Slit my wrists, staining the ceiling a very unpleasant rusty colour indeed…

How was your week?

P.S. I’ll be away from the internet most of the day today, so I’ll catch up with comments as soon as I can in the evening or tomorrow.  ‘Talk’ to you then!

New discussion over at the VBBC:  Is John selfish or supportive?  Click here to have your say!

59 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life